Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

5 September 2006 @ 1pm

Scorecard for the War on Terrorism

Coming from Bruce Schneier and TRAC:

… timely data show that five years later, in the latest available period, the total number of these prosecutions has returned to roughly what they were just before the attacks.

How is it that, during the War on Terrorism, our government is doing such a piss-poor job of catching terrorists that prosecutions have dropped off that severely? Could it be that they aren’t actually putting it at the top of their priorities?

For international terrorism[,] the declination rate has been high, … [i]n fact, timely data show[s] that in the first eight months of FY 2006 the assistant U.S. Attorneys rejected slightly more than nine out of ten of the referrals.

Federal prosecutors are allowed to turn down referrals to prosecute cases from other departments of the government. They’ve turned down about 90% of referrals. What’s going on here?

International Terrorism: Ultimate Outcome of Referrals/Criminal Prosecutions:
Date range: median prison sentence
Oct. 1, 1999 — Sept. 10, 2001: 41 months
Sept. 11, 2001 — Sept. 30, 2003: 28 days
Oct. 1, 2003 — May 31, 2006: 20 days

What in the world? Sentences of the cases that prosecutors did accept fell from 1247 days, to 28 days.

This excerpt from the report sums it up concisely:

Considering the numerous warning statements from President Bush and other federal officials about the continuing nature of the terrorism threat, however, the gradual decline in these cases since the FY 2002 high point and the high rate at which prosecutors are declining to prosecute terrorism cases raises questions.

Why, given all the warnings and hand-waving statements of, “You’re in danger! We can’t say when or where, but be afraid,” has prosecution and pursuing of terrorism fallen so drastically?

We need to be asking these questions of the government. We need to say, “Why have you taken so many of our liberties, and delivered nothing tangible in the way of actual results? Do you need to strip-search us in airports, taking away our properties to make us ‘safe’? Our phonecalls are tapped, our financial records searchable, and you’ve made no progress in this ‘war’.”

It’s required data from the government that made this report possible. It allows us, the citizenry, to hold the government accountable for their words and actions.

We need to hold them accountable.